The Utah Board of Education will begin meetings in 1989 with one new face at the table.
Incumbents won in three districts, but Jay Liechty, Provo, was added to the board as the District 8 representative after defeating long-time PTA worker Lenora D. Plothow. He will succeed Margaret Nelson, who did not seek re-election.Board President Keith T. Checketts, Logan, survived a challenge in District 2 from former Ogden School District Superintendent William L. Garner, Huntsville; Ruth Hardy Funk defeated businessman Randall G. Harmsen in District 4; and M. Richard Maxfield will continue to represent District 6, having bested Keith Henschen.
The board races were somewhat overshadowed by the threat of the tax initiatives. The tax reform measures were seen by many as an attack on Utah's educational system, because the bulk of the state's tax income goes to support education. Board members collectively heaved a sigh of relief when the initiatives went down to defeat.
"I'm so grateful for those results," Checketts said. "I was more worried about them, almost, than my own race. Whether I won or lost, the citizens of Utah would have been served, but if the initiatives had passed, it would have been a very sad day for education in this state."
Checketts said he is gratified at the electorate's recognition of his past service on the board and is anxious to work through the next four years to put a proposed new strategic plan for education into effect. The plan has been approved by the board and will undergo public scrutiny over the next few months.
Funk said she was "excited and really moved to have another opportunity to serve the state and its children."
As chairwoman of the Strategic Planning Commission, she said, she has a particularly proprietary interest in the plan as "a road map to direct education for Utah."
She also looks forward to a more significant role in promoting education in the Legislature this year, she said. "We're going to have to do everything in our power to limit spending and realign it in Utah and find innovative ways to provide additional funds by partnershipping with business and industry."
Liechty, a faculty member at Salt Lake Business College, said: "I'm happy to be on the board. I really want to serve. My first priority will be to push for better accountancy and accountability" in the state's schools.
Liechty said he hopes through more stringent fiscal management to get more money into classrooms where it is needed to improve education, and to improve management techniques at the school level to prevent the loss of students at either end of the educational spectrum.
"I also want to communicate effectively with the public," he said. His district includes Pleasant Grove, Orem, Provo, Springville and the Santaquin area.
Maxfield did not answer telephone calls early Wednesday. In a statement prior to the election, he commented on the need of education to change to meet the needs of today's world.
"The ideal education is one that prepares students to meet family, workplace and civic responsibilities in tomorrow's world. Society has changed drastically in the past two decades; schools have not made compensating changes. We must have faith in teachers, give them a clear challenge and free their hands - give them the freedom and the incentives to get the job done."